Sir Roger Bannister reveals Parkinson's disease battle

Roger Bannister It is almost 60 years since Sir Roger Bannister ran a sub-four-minute mile

Related Stories

Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes, has revealed he has Parkinson's disease.

Sir Roger, 85, made sporting history with his landmark run at Oxford's Iffley Road track on 6 May 1954.

The former neurologist said: "I am having troubles with walking. Ironically, it's a neurological disorder - Parkinson's disease."

He was diagnosed with the condition three years ago.

'Gentle irony'

Sir Roger told BBC Radio Oxford: "I have seen, and looked after, patients with so many neurological and other disorders that I am not surprised I have acquired an illness.

"It's in the nature of things, there's a gentle irony to it.

"I am being well looked after and I don't intend to let it interfere - as much as I can.

"Just consider the alternatives - that is the way I look at it. One of my pleasures in life, apart from running, has been walking. Intellectually I am not [degenerating] and what is walking anyway?"

Roger Bannister about to cross the tape at the end of his record breaking mile run at Iffley Road, Oxford Sir Roger had planned to retire at the 1952 Olympic Games if he won the 1500m - he came fourth

Sir Roger shocked the world when he ran a mile in three minutes 59.4 seconds to become the first person to break the four-minute barrier.

Bannister was helped by Sir Christopher Chataway and Chris Brasher, who acted as pacesetters.

Parkinson's disease

  • It is a neurological condition where nerve cells in the brain die
  • Around one in every 500 people in the UK have the disease
  • There is no known cure, but drugs can help with treatment
  • People with the condition lack a chemical called dopamine, so movements become slower
  • Symptoms include shaking, slow movement, and inflexible muscles, which can make it difficult to walk, write, or do up buttons.

Brasher died in 2003 after a short illness and Chataway died from cancer in January.

Bannister may be best remembered for the sub-four minute mile, but he said his 1954 Commonwealth Games gold medal was the pinnacle of his athletics career.

The Vancouver Games were held only months after he broke the four-minute barrier, but the race was made all the more important as his chief adversary, Australia's John Landy, had broken his famous record 46 days before.

'Special race'

Bannister took the title in a Games record 3:58.8, leaving Landy, who clocked 3:59.6, to take the silver.

"The race between the two of us was a very, very special race," he said.

"It determined which would be regarded as the superior runner in history."

Six decades on, he has warned a breakthrough in the fight against Parkinson's could still be some way off.

"I know quite a lot about it and have treated a lot of people with it," he said.

"I am aware of all the research that's been done. I think it will take some time before there is a breakthrough, but the management and drug treatments are improving all the time."

Parkinson's UK chief executive Steve Ford said he was "saddened" to hear the "much-loved sporting legend" was being treated for the disease.

"One person every hour in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson's," he said.

"We applaud Sir Roger and his decision to speak publicly about his diagnosis at this stage in his long life."

More on This Story

BBC Oxford



Min. Night 14 °C

BBC Local Live

    Good evening 18:00:

    Local Live has finished for the day. We'll be back with more news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Tuesday.

    tv tonight 17:50: Geraldine Peers Presenter, BBC South Today

    Tonight from 18:30, work on a £6m scheme to create a hamburger roundabout at Kennington caused traffic misery for motorists this morning.

    And hundreds of people lined the roads of Bicester to witness the last ever parade by 23 Pioneer Regiment.

    Thundery showers risk 17:39: Alexis Green Weather presenter, BBC South Today

    This evening and tonight there is still the risk of heavy, thundery showers although these will tend to ease and most places will become dry through the night with lows of 14 to 15C. (59F).

    Weather chart
    'Get the bus' 17:30: Emma Harrison BBC News Online

    Motorists were stuck in traffic for up to three hours this morning after a new contraflow system began on the A423 between Hinksey Hill and Heyford Hill interchanges. The system will remain in place until November 2014.

    Oxfordshire County Council's deputy leader Rodney Rose said: "If you are not used to using public transport perhaps for this period it would be useful.

    Councillor Rodney Rose

    "One bus can take 70 cars off the road for example and a train can take an awful lot more. So if a train journey is possible, even if it is until the end of November, perhaps you would think about it."

    Blooming lovely 17:18:

    Becca Collacott from Abingdon has emailed in these pictures of colourful flowers.


    Email us to share your pictures of Oxfordshire.

    Didcot towers picture 17:07:

    Mel Gigg has sent in this great image of Didcot Power Station taken from the ridgeway to the south of Didcot.

    Didcot Power Station

    Mel said: This was a few hours before the demolition but to me is a far more personal and fitting reminder of them as the shadow of the floodlights point the way to the sky.

    Do you have a picture you would like to share? Email us now.

    In the news 17:00: Bethan Phillips Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Drivers are being warned to expect more congestion tonight - because of roadworks that caused delays of up to three hours this morning on Oxford's southern bypass.

    We will hear from transport boss Rodney Rose after 17:00.

    Charity money debate 16:50: via Facebook

    Today Kat Orman asked whether the RSPCA spending more than £320,000 on fighting a court case is an acceptable use of charity money? Should there be more transparency from charities about how donated money is spent?

    Sarah Needle wrote: £326k is a lot of money to spend prosecuting one group. Surely that money could be better spent else where, helping more animals...?!

    Rosie Wilkins wrote: People donate to the RSPCA because they are animal lovers. I don't think many of them would mind too much that their donation was being used to protect animals.

    New Healthwatch CEO 16:42:

    Healthwatch Oxfordshire has appointed Rachel Coney as its new chief executive officer.

    She joins the watchdog after nine years spent working within the NHS.

    Rachel Coney

    Her last role was as assistant director at the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG).

    Ms Coney said: "I look forward to working with patients, social care recipients, carers, commissioners, providers and the voluntary sector, to make a significant difference to the quality of health and social care in the county."

    Flytipper fined 16:31: Emma Harrison BBC News Online

    A 22-year-old man who dumped several rubbish bags at the end of his own street was fined after council officers found his address among the waste.

    Mitchell Brash, of Deacon Way, Banbury, was ordered to pay a total of £370 in fines and legal costs after pleading guilty to one charge of flytipping at Banbury Magistrates' Court.

    Rape case dropped 16:21: Eleanor Williams BBC News

    A 22-year-old man accused of raping a teenage girl in an Oxfordshire town last year has had the charge against him dropped.

    The 15-year-old girl reported that she was attacked while walking in Shilton Park in Carterton after a night out on 21 September.

    Upside down rainbow 16:12:

    Rob Horne tweeted this picture of an upside down rainbow spotted above Banbury yesterday.

    Upside down rainbow

    If you have a picture you'd like to share, get in touch on Twitter.

    In the news 16:00: Bethan Phillips Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    The redevelopment of the Didcot cooling towers site is set to bring jobs to the area, according to the company behind the plans.

    We'll hear from Neil Harvey from Clowes Development UK limited on BBC Radio Oxford after 16:00.

    Heavy traffic 15:51: Emma Harrison BBC News Online

    BBC Radio Oxford heard from motorists sat in traffic for up to three hours earlier on the A423 and A34 because of roadworks on the southern bypass at the Kennington Roundabout.

    This afternoon there is still heavy traffic in both directions on the A423.

    Commonweath Games final 15:38: Ross Heaton Sports reporter, BBC Radio Oxford

    Oxfordshire 1500m runner Hannah England has qualified for the final on Tuesday after finishing 4th in the semi-final.

    Dead fish 15:28: Alex Therrien BBC News Online

    The Environment Agency is investigating what caused the deaths of about 250 fish in Oxfordshire.

    The fish were found at the Moor Ditch in Didcot on Saturday.

    Didcot towers conversion? 15:19:

    Architects ADP tweets: Didcot's cooling towers are down. Didn't go for our conversion ideas then... via @BBCOxford

    Didcot towers
    In the news 14:59: Bethan Phillips Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Drivers are being warned to avoid the southern bypass in Oxford - after roadworks caused chaos there this morning.

    A contraflow has been set up on the A423, reducing it to one lane in each direction.

    Deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council Rodney Rose says people should think about other means of travel.

    WW1 photographs 14:44:

    A library is calling for the donation of First World War photographs.

    Abingdon library is working with the Abingdon Area Archaeological and History Society to build up a photographic display of the town's soldiers.

    Kat and Co 14:28: Kat Orman Afternoon presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    On today's show, we are talking about charity spending. The RSPCA spent more than £320,000 prosecuting members of the Heythrop Hunt in David Cameron's constituency in Oxfordshire two years ago.

    A review of the prosecution has provoked fierce criticism. Is this an acceptable use of charity money? Would you be happy for your monetary donations to be spent on fighting court cases?


    Should there be more transparency from charities about how donated money is spent?

    Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

    In Connor's memory 14:15: Oxford Mail

    A fundraising event will be held at a city nightclub tomorrow night for a campaign over the death of a teenager at an NHS facility.

    In the news 14:01: Bethan Phillips Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Major roadworks on Oxford's southern bypass have caused delays of up to two hours on the A34.

    A contraflow has been set up on the A423, reducing it to one lane in each direction.

    We'll hear from Emma Wilberforce from Stagecoach at 14:00, who says buses have been experiencing problems as a result.

    Hot pets 13:43:

    Becca Collacott from Abingdon has sent us this picture of her cat Ebony enjoying the recent hot weather.

    Send us in your pictures via email, Facebook or Twitter.

    Cat in the sun

    Take a look at BBC South Today's Facebook photo album of pets enjoying the sunshine.

    quarterstaffer's plea 13:28: Oxford Times

    A lone quarterstaffer is trying to teach Oxford about the little-known British tradition, despite the fact no one showed up to his first training session this week.

    Lunchtime television 13:15: BBC South Today

    Coming up from 13:30, with Tom Hepworth, after dominating the landscape for more than forty years three cooling towers at Didcot A power station are no more and troops from 23 Pioneer Regiment - the Royal Logistic Corps - have marched through Bicester for the final time ahead of the unit being disbanded.

    In the news 13:00: Bethan Phillips Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Roadworks on the A423 that caused severe traffic delays this morning are expected to last until November.

    We'll hear more from the deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Rodney Rose, after 13:00.

    He says they've been trying to work outside of rush hour as much as possible.

    Commonwealth games 12:51:

    Didcot shooter Dan Rivers has missed out on place in the final of the 50m prone event after finishing 20th in today's qualifying event.

    He won bronze in the 10m air rifle shootout on Friday.

    Dan Rivers
    Dead fish 12:37:

    The Environment Agency tweets: 1/2 1) We are busy investigating the cause of pollution to Moor Ditch in #Didcot with has resulted in dead fish.

    It added: 2/2 This incident isn't related to recent demolition of the #Didcot cooling towers. Please call with any info on the pollution 0800 807060.

    A34 congestion 12:20:

    Stagecoach Oxford tweets: SERVICE UPDATE:A34 is heavily congested due to Kennington r/works. S5's experiencing delays of up to 35 mins.

    Final march 12:09: Oxford Times

    Bicester's 23 Pioneer Regiment passed through the town on Sunday for the last time.

    In the news 12:00: Paul Jenner Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    A contraflow system installed on Oxford's southern bypass has been causing huge problems on the A34 this morning.

    The A423 was down to one lane in each direction between Hinksey Hill Interchange and Heyford Hill Interchange.

    We'll hear from the county's transport boss Rodney Rose after 12:00.

    Benefit Fraud 11:42:

    A 48-year-old man who dishonestly claimed more than £8,800 in benefits has been given a 12-month community order of 120 hours unpaid work.

    Yawahab Badmus, of Hockmore Tower, Cowley, who was also told to pay £120 costs, will have to pay back the overpaid benefit to Oxford City Council.

    New Oxford United signing 11:31:

    Oxford United have signed defender Joe Riley on loan from Bolton Wanderers.

    Riley 22, joins the team until January after passing his medical this morning.

    Joe Riley

    Head coach Michael Appleton said: "He is 6ft tall, he has pace and he uses the ball well.

    "A lot of clubs have been monitoring his career and he has a chance to come here, play games and show everyone what a good player he is."

    Arson attack 11:21: Oxford Mail

    A tyre business owner has spoken out after his workshop was destroyed in a suspected arson attack at Faringdon Business Park in the early hours of Saturday.

    Pictures: Didcot demolition 11:11:

    Thanks to Damien Dyer who emailed these fantastic aerial shots of where the Didcot cooling towers once stood.

    Demolished Didcot towers
    Demolished Didcot towers
    In the news 10:59: Paul Jenner Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Motorists have been stuck in traffic this morning because of roadworks in Oxford.

    The A423 has been reduced to one lane in each direction between Hinksey Hill Interchange and Heyford Hill Interchange.

    We'll hear from someone who was in the jam earlier on BBC Radio Oxford after 11:00.

    Stuck in traffic? 10:49: Malcolm Boyden Mid-morning presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    We want to hear from you if you've been stuck on the A34 this morning. Give us a call on 03459 311666.

    Feedback 10:41:

    What do you think of BBC Local Live? Tell us what you think.

    A34 traffic 10:29:

    Dani Dixey tweets: @dizzy_360 @BBCOxford it's taken me over an hour from Abingdon and I've moved maybe 3 miles! Turn off where you can!

    On today's show 10:24: Malcolm Boyden Mid-morning presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    I'll be talking to Ian Nolan, a relative of Chipping Norton 18-year-old Emma Curtis-Smith, who died while watching her boyfriend on his first parade as an officer cadet at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurt in Surrey in 2005. Ian will be talking about the charity launched in her memory, Emma's Trust.

    I'll also be meeting Witney man Mike Leahy who's sold his house and possessions to live in a double decker bus with a load of scorpions and leeches.

    M40 queuing traffic 10:13:
    In the news 10:00: Paul Jenner Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    Roadworks have caused severe traffic delays in Oxford this morning.

    We will be talking to those caught up in the jams on BBC Radio Oxford after 10:00.

    Didcot demolition 09:44: Phil Gayle Breakfast presenter, BBC Radio Oxford

    This morning I want to know what would you built on the site of the Didcot cooling towers now three of them have been demolished?

    It's the size of 65 football pitches. What does Oxfordshire need?

    Didcot Power Station

    Get in touch and join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter.

    A34 woes 09:36:

    Becky Donaldson tweets: @BBCOxford a34 north been queued from before marcham turnoff not at abingdon yet and sat still, its been 90mins and counting....urgh

    New playground 09:29: Henley Standard

    A £130,000 toddler playground has been officially opened in Henley.

    Replacements for Didcot's towers? 09:19: via Facebook

    Three of Didcot's cooling towers are gone and BBC Radio Oxford listeners have been discussing on Facebook what the site could now be used for.

    Edith Smith wrote: Didcot has nothing special in Didcot for kids. Take a leaf out of Cholsey and make a special play area.

    Didcot Power Station

    Carol Kenny wrote: Out door/indoor leisure centre, with a Glamping site.

    Stephen Shephard suggested a theme park.

    What do you think? Join the debate now.

    M40 traffic 09:09:

    Stop-start traffic has been reported on the M40 London-bound between J6, B4009 (Watlington) and J3, A40 (Loudwater).

    as it happened
    • News, sport, travel, weather for Mon 28 July
    • More updates from 08:00 on Tuesday
    • Listen to BBC Radio Oxford
    in the news 09:00: Paul Jenner Newsreader, BBC Radio Oxford

    We've spoken to Bill McKinnon, who lives just 450m away from where Didcot's closest tower once stood.

    He says there was a huge amount of dust from yesterday's demolition.

    Hear more on BBC Radio Oxford after 9:00.

    Gaza rally 08:44: Oxford Mail

    Opponents of Israel's bombardment of the Gaza strip took to the streets of Oxford on Saturday in support of victims of the conflict.

    Man hit by car 08:33:

    A man was hit by a car following an argument with at least one woman yesterday, police have said.

    The argument happened near the Evenlode Tower in Blackbird Leys, Oxford, at about 01:00.

    The man was then hit by a silver car while he was on the pavement near the tower and the woman got into the car, which drove off.

    He suffered heavy bruising to his leg and was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital.

    They're gone... 08:24:

    Three cooling towers at Didcot A Power Station were demolished yesterday.

    Didcot Power Station demolition

    Hundreds of people gathered to watch the towers come down at 5:01 BST.

    Relive the moment they were demolished here.

    Roadworks 08:14:

    There is a new contraflow system in place between the A4074 and A34 with traffic reduced to one lane due to junction improvements at the Kennington Roundabout and Hinksey Hill Interchange.

    Long delays are expected.

    Sunny intervals 08:06: Bee Tucker BBC Weather

    There will be sunny intervals and showers today, which will be locally very heavy and thundery.

    Weather forecast

    Generally it will feel warm or very warm in the light winds. Highs of 23C (73F).

    Good morning 08:00: Emma Harrison BBC News Online

    Welcome along to BBC Local Live this Monday morning. I'll be bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather for the county.

    Get in touch - on email, Facebook or Twitter.



Elsewhere on the BBC

  • StuntmanStuntman to the stars

    Driving dangerously and falling off buildings are all part of the day job for Bobby Holland Hanton


  • The smartphones of shoppers being tracked in a storeClick Watch

    How free wi-fi can enable businesses to track our movements and learn more about us

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.